One Month Tries Boot Camp Approach to Teach Founders How to Launch

An online school for entrepreneurs is starting a competition that seems to fall somewhere between a hackathon and full throttle accelerator.

New York-based One Month already offers lessons in coding and app development, along with business courses on product management. This sounds akin to, say, Khan Academy or General Assembly, but with a special emphasis on completing courses within one month.

Now Mattan Griffel, co-founder and CEO, is prepping the One Month Startup boot camp to get startups launched in 30 days. The curriculum will include courses in picking an idea to build on, developing a viable product, putting together a team, and finding clientele. Dangling like a carrot is a $10,000 prize for the startup that performs the best upon completion, he says.

Before would-be founders dog pile on each other to enter, the boot camp costs $499 to participate, and there are only 100 slots available. Admissions started Monday with classes to commence Jan. 15. Those who do get in should expect video lectures and assignments such as collecting feedback from potential customers. The entry fee includes one year of access to the lineup of 11 online classes One Month offers (such a subscription usually costs $990).

Graduates of the boot camp should be aware that they are still just getting started, Griffel says: “It is not like at the end of 30 days they will have a startup that is totally profitable.”

And he knows a bit launching and building a startup. One Month started with the One Month Rails course his team put together on Skillshare in 2011. Later, Griffel and company got into the summer 2013 class of Y Combinator, which led to the evolution of One Month as a place for other types of one month-classes.

There are other connections between One Month and Y Combinator. Kevin Hale, a partner with Y Combinator, will be one of the judges for the boot camp competition. Griffel says One Month has raised about $2.5 million so far, generates $1.5 million in revenue, and its students and alumni number some 30,000.

A few lessons from Y Combinator also rubbed off on him, such as founders needing to learn about business matters they had not considered along with the very basics of starting a company. Griffel says he started out with an idea but quickly realized he lacked certain necessary skills, which he later learned or sought others to fill those gaps. The learning process at an accelerator is something he hopes to replicate and put a new spin on. “A lot of people have ideas but no idea where to start,” Griffel says. “We think we can use online learning and technology to scale what Y Combinator or Techstars is currently doing.”

While One Month is trying to spread knowledge among more founders, Griffel says he wants to keep its classes manageable. “We don’t want to be a MOOC (massive open online course) in the sense of serving 10,000 students.”

One Month has plans to expand its faculty in 2016, Griffel says, and more courses are on the way. “This is a startup test bed for coaching and other ideas,” he says.

Given the rumblings and fears that the tech bubble might burst, fizzle, or slow down, it had to be asked whether churning out new founders and a bunch of startups is a good idea now. Griffel says he is not here to exaggerate situations that may, or may not, be happening. He does however see plenty of opportunities in society where folks with strong ideas can contribute—within reason. “I’m not necessarily trying to encourage people to build the next billion dollar startup,” he says.

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